It was one of those days when God was creating the earth. He was working on Texas as darkness fell at the end of the day, and He had to quit.
He gave the Great Plains of West Texas a smoothing stroke and said to Himself, "In the morning I'll come back and make it pretty like the rest of the world, with lakes and streams and mountains and trees."
But the next morning when He returned, it had hardened like concrete overnight. As He thought about having to tear it all down and make it over, He had a happy thought: "I know what I'll do", He said, "I'll just make some people who like it this way."
And that is how it came about that the people who live in the Panhandle like it this way.
-George Autry 1899-1960 Lifetime Member, Panhandle-Plains Historical Society
Amarillo is one of the last places on earth where the Old West is just minutes away. Amarillo sits at the crossroads of America, almost equidistant from both coasts. Air travelers reach the city through connecting flights from every major air terminal in the central U.S. Motorists simply take I-40 -- one of the best-traveled routes in the country -- or I-27.
Since the 16th century, Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle have drawn visitors from around the world. Francisco Coronado, the first European to see the vast open spaces of the American Southwest, crossed the high plains in 1541 -- nearly 80 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. He was followed by cattlemen and sheep herders from all points of the compass looking for fresh grazing grounds and a place to start a new life. Most famous of them was Charles Goodnight, inventor of the chuck wagon and a the basis of a character in Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove series.
When the oil boom hit Texas, it exploded across the Texas Panhandle. Vast fortunes were made overnight and the region's economy grew because of the lure of black gold.
Since World War II, the Panhandle economy has diversified to include heavy manufacturing, petrochemicals, farming and, of course, modern ranching. In the last decades, the ranches have been the key to a new industry--tourism. The Amarillo area is now a major destination for Old West enthusiasts from all over the globe. The lure of the Old West also draws thousands every year to attractions like the internationally-famous outdoor musical "TEXAS", and Western Breakfasts and/or Dinners.
Amarillo and the surrounding Panhandle area are a unique blend of two American eras. There are the working ranches, essentially unchanged in the day-to-day operations from the late nineteenth century, and there is a vibrant twenty-first century economy, providing leadership for the modern west. That's why we say when you step into Amarillo, you "Step Into The Real Texas."
1541: Spanish conquistador Francisco Coronado is the first European to reach the area.
1786: A portion of El Camino Real (The King's Highway) from Santa Fe, NM, to San Antonio, TX, included the Amarillo area and was widely used for exploration and trade.
1874: The first and second battle of Palo Duro, between U.S. troops and the Indians, started the demise of the Native American in the area. Learn more about the
Red River War in the Texas Panhandle by
1876: Potter Country - named after Robert Potter, Secretary of the Navy and Senator of the Republic of Texas - was created by the Texas Legislature. Rancher Col. Charles Goodnight, developer of the chuckwagon, started the local cattle industry when he settled in the area and brought 1,600 head of cattle with him.
1878: The buffalo was replaced by the Longhorn, the LX Ranch was established, and the Frying Pan was the first of the large ranches to be fenced in with barbed wire.
1883: Judge O.H. Nelson imported Hereford and Shorthorn cattle, unwittingly starting the demise of the Longhorn.
1887: Amarillo became a county seat and the first railroad freight service came to the area.
1910: West Texas A&M University was founded; today it serves the entire Texas Panhandle, a region the size of Indiana.
1913: Amarillo was the first city in Texas and only the fifth in the nation to adopt a city commission/city manager form of government.
1918: Natural gas was discovered in the Texas Panhandle.
1921: Oil was discovered in the area.
1922: The first radio concert was broadcast from an Amarillo radio station and carried by WDAG - one of the first 80 licensed stations in the country.
1929: U.S. Bureau of Mines' Amarillo Helium plant was completed, and the city was on the way to becoming the "Center of the Helium Industry." Amarillo International Airport opened.
1930: Air mail service started to Amarillo.
1948: The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) moved its headquarters to Amarillo.
1965: Lake Meredith opened and recorded 227,000 visitors the first year. President Johnson signed the act dedicating Alibates Flint Quarries as a National Monument.
1966: Paul Green's "Texas" opened; this was made possible after the sound and light show Thundering Sounds of the West drew 36,000 people the previous summer.
1992: Major renovation of Amarillo International Airport is completed.
1995: The Working Ranch Cowboy Association (WRCA), an organization entirely dedicated to the working cowboy, was created with headquarters in Amarillo.
1998: Bell Helicopter announced development of an Amarillo manufacturing center to build the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft with the capabilities of both fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft.
1999: Amarillo resident Kimberly Willis Holt wins the National Book Award for her children's novel When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.
2000: Amarillo resident Brandon Slay wins wrestling gold medal at the summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
2003: Amarillo native Rick Husband commands Space Shuttle Columbia. He and his crew died during an explosion when returning to Earth.
2004: National Cutting Horse Association returns to Amarillo.